Papers on Modern History VI

Mao and after Mao
11:00 am – 12:45 pm
Room A

  • Chaired by Sascha Klotzbücher
  • Igor Chabrowski, “Reforming Opera in Chongqing: The Birth of the Communist ‘People’s Art’ (1949–1952)”
  • Fabienne Wallenwein, “Cultural Heritage Conservation: Becoming a Key Dimension of Chinese Urban Development?—A Study of Two Cases from the Jiangnan Region”
  • Anna Stecher, “The Biographical Representation of the Late Zhou Enlai: A Dramaturgical Approach”
  • Yumi Ishii, “Orphan of Zhao: A Story and the Dynamism of Village Community in Shanxi China”

Igor Chabrowski, “Reforming Opera in Chongqing: The Birth of the Communist ‘People’s Art’ (1949–1952)”

The Chinese Communist Party (CCP) revolutionary cultural policy in the 1950s is often presented as a well-organised, determined, planned, and effective system. On the example of the opera reform in Chongqing’s early 1950s, I shall demonstrate that this picture is very hard to sustain when faced with much of newly available evidence. I am going to argue that CCP understanding of the function of culture in the “socialist construction” and its ability to exploit artists and their work for the Party’s ends were very limited. The Party devolved cultural work to the military regions and provinces acted without any clear aim and was overwhelmed by the daunting task of providing basic subsistence to actors, writers, theatre administration et al. At the same time, Communists took over a country already shaped by the Nationalist Party wartime propaganda system and by a vibrant commercial market of theatre houses and opera troupes. In such conditions, the early 1950s cultural reform developed through efforts of suppression, adaptation, and subversion of the existing institution of cultural production, which made opera only partially serviceable to the political campaigns such as the land reform. Only the ongoing stress on China’s resources by the Korean War, motivated CCP leadership to form a national mechanism for exploitation of opera, reformulating it on the ideas, experiences, and definitions of the wartime propaganda developed during the Russian October Revolution, Sino-Japanese War 1937–45, and the Civil War 1946–49.

Fabienne Wallenwein, “Cultural Heritage Conservation: Becoming a Key Dimension of Chinese Urban Development?—A Study of Two Cases from the Jiangnan Region”

Early Chinese conservation initiatives can be traced back to a first conservation movement in the 1930s by the Society for Research in Chinese Architecture (Zhongguo yingzao xueshe 中国营造学社) and to pioneering foreign-educated Chinese architects such as Liang Sicheng 梁思成. Despite these initiatives, historic urban centres suffered great losses of cultural heritage during the Cultural Revolution as well as in the process of rapid urban development, resulting from neglect and destruction. China’s enthusiasm for World Heritage triggered a fundamental change in attitude with historic centres now being increasingly valued and placed under governmental protection. At the beginning of the 1980s, China primarily promulgated a batch of 24 National Historically and Culturally Famous Cities (Zhongguo lishi wenhua mingcheng 中国历史文化名城) characterised by preserved cultural relics and high historical value. The paper investigates the conservation of historic areas in two of these cities located in the Jiangnan region as part of city development: Pingjiang Historical and Cultural Block in Suzhou 苏州平江历史文化街区 and Tianzifang in Shanghai 上海田子坊. In both cases, the increasing significance of local characteristic features in a globalised world and recognition from the international conservation community are strong incentives for the conservation of cultural heritage and its integration into local development. Moreover, intangible aspects, such as references to literary works, philosophical and spiritual traditions or local customs are increasingly considered.

Anna Stecher, “The Biographical Representation of the Late Zhou Enlai: A Dramaturgical Approach”

As research has shown, biographies are not only determined by events or by historical facts but also, or even more, by aspects related to the process of story-telling and narrating. For this presentation, I aim at exploring the category of “dramaturgy” in order to analyse biographical texts. By dramaturgy, I mean all the strategies and techniques which are used for telling a story, comprising both the “what” (what is narrated) and the “how” (how is it narrated) as well as the “why” (the overall dramaturgy). In order to illustrate how this approach can be helpful for getting a better understanding of biographies produced in the 20th and 21st century China, I will especially focus on biographical texts which deal with the life of the late Zhou Enlai. While a number of studies have been conducted on biographies related to other influent Chinese politicians (especially Mao Zedong biographies), biographical texts on Zhou Enlai, although produced in overwhelming numbers also in recent times, remain largely unexplored. Besides examining literary biographies, I will also discuss biographical movies, TV-series, and theatre-plays.

Yumi Ishii, “Orphan of Zhao: A Story and the Dynamism of Village Community in Shanxi China”

This presentation will examine the oral tradition of Zhaoshi gu’er, the original story of Orphan of China, which was the most successful Chinese drama in 18th century Europe. In China, this story was recorded in Zuoshizhuan and Shiji as a historical event in Shanxi in the seventh century BC and widely spread in the villages of Shanxi orally before adapted in Yuan play.
In this presentation, I will argue the relationship between the story and rain-making rituals, which could be dated back to at least Song dynasty in Yu-County, to examine how the story was spread orally and related to the living of people there. Based on oral history research, I found that Zhaoshi gu’er (Zhao Wu in its name) has been worshipped as a deity of rain-making, every village curved a small statue of him to enshrine it in the mausoleum at Mt. Cang where, in the story, Zhao Wu had been hidden from the enemy for 15 years, then carried it back to their village when they need to perform rain-making. These statues were also shared among neighbouring villages and bound them together into several inter-village communities, which survived the prohibition of rain-making and political collectivisation of farming before 1980.
In this presentation, I will try to demonstrate the dynamism of this village network during and after Mao’s era, and show how the story affects people’s daily life and decision making under a crisis such as war, drought, and political turbulences.

Papers on Modern History V

9:00 am – 10:45 am
Room A

  • Chaired by Brian Martin
  • Rocco Maria Colonna, “Morality in Qing and Republican China”
  • Nuan Gao, “Synchronicity and Inner Mechanisms: Building fukan as a China’s Public Sphere During the May Fourth Era”
  • Brian Martin, “An Incomplete Party State: Zhou Fohai and the Wang Jingwei Government 1939–­1940”
  • Ling-chieh Chen, “Crossing National Borders: The Crisis of International Postal Communication in Manchuria, 1931–1935”

Rocco Maria Colonna, “Morality in Qing and Republican China”

This paper aims to understand some aspects of Chinese civilisation, through the laws that drew the boundaries between morality and immorality at the beginning of the XX Century in China. In particular, this research intends to show how Chinese society deeply changed after the Xinhai Revolution and the advent of new rulers. For this purpose, the present study compares the laws developed both by the Qing and, later, by the Republican authorities to discipline issues such as adultery, rape, concubinage, and prostitution. This comparison is focused on the Great Qing Legal Code (along with some of its commentaries) and certain provisional penal codes were drawn up in the years 1912–35.
Laws regulating morality can help to explain the social groups that adopt them. Such legal provisions reveal essential information about the structure, organisation, and internal functioning of any human community. Besides, by a careful examination of these laws’ evolution, it is possible to find out how and when those communities tried to embrace change. Therefore, the objective of the proposed analysis is twofold: firstly, it tries to isolate and explain some habits that were at the root of the Chinese society, under the Qing dynasty. Secondly, it attempts to understand how these habits were reconsidered, by Republican legislators, after the collapse of the Chinese Empire in 1911.

Nuan Gao, “Synchronicity and Inner Mechanisms: Building fukan as a China’s Public Sphere During the May Fourth Era”

This paper attempts to contribute to the ongoing discussion on the relevance of public sphere, conceptualised by Jürgen Habermas, to the context of Chinese history, employing the cases of the fukans (supplements) of three influential Chinese newspapers of the May Fourth era (circa from 1915 to 1926): Chenbao, Minguo ribao, and Shishi xinbao. All of these fukans served as popular forums for discussion and debates, publishing speeches, articles, and letters by people of different social strata, and showcasing a wide spectrum of literary and political views. This paper firstly argues that the May Fourth era was the general backdrop for the formation of China’s public sphere, as it was a synchronic counterpart to the eighteenth century of Britain and France in terms of the emergence of a critical-minded reading public, thanks to the social transformation since 1840, the abolition of the imperial civil service examination system, and the existence of an interim power vacuum between the downfall of Qing dynasty and the rise of the authoritarian Chiang government, which brought about relatively loose censorship and thus made rational criticism possible. This paper also analyses the inner mechanisms of the fukans, arguing that in constructing China’s public sphere, both the left and moderate intellectuals put conscious efforts and shared the same moral courage, while their roles were quite different: the left was more prominent as passionate and idealist spiritual idols, while the moderate acted as pragmatic and sober organisers, disciplining the discussants with civility and rationality.

Brian Martin, “An Incomplete Party State: Zhou Fohai and the Wang Jingwei Government 1939–­1940”

The Wang Jingwei Government was a collaborationist government that considered that it had a ‘national’ mandate covering the areas of occupied China; and it sought to achieve a permanent peace with Japan through negotiations. At ist core, however, it was a Guomindang Party Government, whose organisation and institutions were based on those of the pre-war Nationalist Government, and that mirrored those of the Guomindang Chongqing Government. Zhou Fohai was a key architect of this collaborationist Party-State, who defined the key prerequisites for such a national collaborationist government. In 1939-1940 Zhou led the Wang Jingwei group’s negotiating team in the negotiations with the Japanese. With the creation of the government in 1940 Zhou ensured that he controlled the two key ministries handling the regime’s income and security—the Ministries of Finance and of the Police (the latter having oversight of the newly created Security Service). Zhou Fohai’s attitude to collaboration, however, contained a fundamental contradiction: while he wanted to construct a collaborationist state, yet such a state must have a relationship with the Chongqing government. He saw Wang Jingle’s ‘peace’ state and Chiang Kai-shek’s ‘war’ state, in other words, as being in some form of symbiotic relationship. In Zhou’s view, the complementary activities of Nanjing and Chongqing were essential for the achievement of comprehensive peace. This approach affected his view of the Basic Treaty. While he pushed throughout 1940 for official Japanese recognition, when it came in the form of the Basic Treaty he disliked it as it represented for him a final rupture with Chongqing, and thus the impossibility of achieving a comprehensive peace.

Ling-chieh Chen, “Crossing National Borders: The Crisis of International Postal Communication in Manchuria, 1931–1935”

This paper aims to explore how the Japanese invasion of Manchuria that began with the Mukden Incident, challenged the Chinese Postal Service (CPS) and China’s postal communication, and why it caused a crisis of the international postal transport. The Nationalist Government of China’s withdrawal of the Chinese Postal Service’s employees in Manchuria and a blockade of postal transport followed the Japanese Army’s invasion in September 1931 and the establishment of Manchukuo on 1 March 1932. The blockade led to a profound crisis of international postal services between Asia and Europe via Manchuria, which eventually became an international issue and aroused the concern of the League of Nations.
This paper first discusses Manchuria as a significant postal transport hub connecting Asia and Europe by transnational railways. Second, it analyses the Chinese Government’s decision of the blockade and its unexpected consequences for the international community. The third part focuses on the Nationalist Government’s compromise in 1935 and the meaning of a ‘national’ postal service during the early twentieth century.
I argue that the Chinese Government regarded the postal service as a useful means to arouse international attention to Japan’s invasion while maintaining international postal service was the priority for the international community. The Chinese Government’s compromise and the international intervention show that despite the feature of only one national postal authority in one country, providing efficient postal services and sharing the responsibility to maintain the international postal service even between hostile regimes were significant features of ‘modern’ postal communication.

Commemoration as a Form of Negotiating Historical Narratives

11:00 am – 12:45 pm
Room 1

  • Organised by Kevin Bockholt
  • Daniel Leese, Chair
  • Kevin Bockholt, “China and the First World War: No Space for Commemoration?”
  • Emily Mae Graf, “Conflicting Sites of Memory in Xinjiang: A Critical Reading of Heroines on Display”
  • Yakai Wang, “The Opium War Museum in Humen: A Challenge to the Leading Narrative?”
  • Stefanie Sinmoy Schaller, “China’s Educated Youth on Museum Display: Rewriting the Leading Narrative?”

How is history negotiated in memorial sites across China? In this panel, the commemoration is defined as an act of remembrance to affirm, to honour, or to admonish historical events as well as critically assess the deeds and misdeeds of historical figures. The transmission of their memory is conducted by institutions, interest groups, and other actors and is mediated in the form of texts, images, and artefacts, which are displayed in museums and memorial sites. While situated in the past, both the events and figures impact people’s behaviour and thinking in the present and future. Presenting four different case studies, the panel examines symbols of war and peace, trauma and nostalgia ranging from the upheavals at the Qing dynasty’s Western borders to the First Opium War, from the First World War to the collective uproar of the Educated Youth in pre-1980s PRC. The regional scope of the panel extends from Kashgar over Yan’an to Humen. It considers museums and other sites of memory located in these places, while also being concerned with the absence of commemoration in the case of the First World War. Drawing on public, academic, institutional, literary, and artistic discussions, the case studies highlight different forms of commemoration initiated by a variety of actors. The panel discusses government institutions, civic associations, and intellectual circles and other voices that negotiate narratives on heroic figures, military conflicts, and mass campaigns in their attempt to determine what to remember—and what to forget.

Kevin Bockholt, “China and the First World War: No Space for Commemoration?”

The First World War is one of the major themes in memory studies. There is a myriad of literature about the different forms and modes of the commemoration of the war in European countries and the USA. This presentation constitutes the first attempt to approach this topic from a Chinese perspective. China began to play an active role in the First World War even before she declared war on the German Empire and joined the Allied Powers in 1917. Starting in 1916, around 140,000 Chinese labourers were sent to Europe to support French, British, and later on American troops behind the front lines with economic and logistic tasks. However, the dominant historical narrative that evolved after 1919 condemned the war as a result of reckless imperialism, capitalist struggles for markets abroad, or a collapsing Western civilisation. Consequently, until today, the commemoration of the labourers is almost non-existent within China. This presentation highlights the tensions between negative understandings of the war, efforts to rewrite China into the history of the First World War, and public demand for commemorating China’s contribution to the war. It draws on materials related to a planned memorial site in Shandong province as well as the recently emerging academic interest in reexamining the First World War through a Chinese perspective. Furthermore, it explores Chinese public discussions during the centenary of the First World War that reflected upon the increasingly complex forms of European commemoration of the Chinese labourers.

Emily Mae Graf, “Conflicting Sites of Memory in Xinjiang: A Critical Reading of Heroines on Display”

Museums and sites of memory play a key role in commemorating, creating and disseminating narratives and images of historical and legendary figures alike. This presentation approaches figures such as the Beauty of Loulan 楼兰美女 of the famous Tarim Basin mummies dating back to 1800 BCE and the legendary Muslim concubine Xiangfei 香妃, who is said to have lived in emperor Qianlong’s court and whose ‘tomb’ remains one of the key sites of tourism in Kashgar today. In museum spaces and sites of commemoration, archaeological, and historical claims are often inextricably entangled with various, at times contradicting, mythical narratives, and legends. Based on observations at the sites and in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region Museum in Urumqi conducted in September 2019, this presentation offers a critical reading of such heroic figures both in the physical spatial context of the museum’s display and in the hierarchical context of the institutional landscape of museums in present-day PRC. It further draws on discourses of the heroines’ reception and evaluation in scientific circles, public discourse, literary production, and artistic reproduction. Which narratives, voices, and institutions make demands on these figures and sites? Approaching these heroines as lieux de mémoire allows us not only to retrace conflicting memories solidified in, among others, Manchu, Han, and Uyghur narratives but also reveals tensions within these narratives (Millward 1994), which turn their sites of memory into highly contested spaces.

Yakai Wang, “The Opium War Museum in Humen: A Challenge to the Leading Narrative?”

The Opium War Museum 鸦片战争博物馆 was founded in 1957 by the provincial government of Guangdong. It was designated as a national site for patriotic education 爱国主义教育基地 in 1994. In line with the Chinese Communists Party’s leading narrative of history, most historians regard the First Opium War (1840–1842) as the beginning of modern Chinese history. Since the 20th century, this event of the Sino-British military conflict has, therefore, been given great historical significance in both Chinese academic research and education. However, taking the development of the Opium War Museums as an indicator, the presentation will show that this narrative did not remain uncontested and underwent certain transformations and revisions in the past sixty years. Changing the name of the museum; adding the theme of drug consumption during the Qing to the exhibition; shifting the focus from achievements of individual historical figures to a broader historical perspective of Sino-foreign relations; all of these adjustments were accompanied by detailed academic studies of the respective aspects. Overall, the museum reflects the conflicting relation between contemporary museums and historical narratives. The main sources of this presentation are journals and publications of the Opium War Museum, government documents, as well as newspaper reports. It shows how the understanding of the First Opium War is continuously affected by the interaction between the mainstream discourse on modern history, academic research, and the exhibitions of the museum itself.

Stefanie Sinmoy Schaller, “China’s Educated Youth on Museum Display: Rewriting the Leading Narrative?”

More than 40 years after its official end, there is no consensus in the PRC on the Chinese Cultural Revolution and the course it took. This presentation elaborates on Educated Youth Museums 知青博物馆 that came up together with a “wave of nostalgia” (Yang 2003) for the generation of the formerly educated youth 知识青年 in the early 1990s. Initiated by civic associations, Educated Youth Museums soon spread over the whole country. Apart from their exhibitions that showed the experiences of enthusiastic and high-spirited young Chinese in the countryside from the early 1950s to the mid-1970s, they served as gathering points for acts of commemoration. The conveyed narrative thereby stood in contrast to the “literature of the wounded” 伤痕文学 whose authors priorly had rejected the Cultural Revolution as a decade of personal deprivation and suffering. Based on recent observations during a field study to a selection of national and private Educated Youth Museums in 2019, the presentation demonstrates how they express the call for an alternative narrative of the first three decades after the founding of the PRC. Thirty years after their emergence, the presentation will show, to what extent Educated Youth Museums have promoted the acceptance of a more positive assessment of that time.

From Socialist Utopias to Post-Revolutionary Consensus

Dismantling the “Gang of Four”
9:00 am – 10:45 am
Room 1

  • A. C. Baecker, “The Birth of a Genre: Conspiracy Film Criticism and the Gang of Four as Cinematic Auteur”
  • Benjamin Kindler, “Overcoming the Author, Overcoming the Wage: Yao Wenyuan, Zhang Chunqiao, and the Theoretical Legacy of the ‘Bourgeois Right’”
  • Mei Li Inouye, “Jiang Qing, the Model Works, and the Confluence of 20th Century Theatre Reforms”

On July 17, 1974, Mao warned Jiang Qing, Wang Hongwen, Zhang Chunqiao, and Yao Wenyuan to avoid acting as a “Gang of Four,” the first time the term had been used to describe the four prominent party officials. Although they had not operated as an organised group, the label stuck, quickly becoming a pejorative shorthand for the most revolutionary Maoist projects of the socialist period. This panel proposes a critical re-examination of the Gang of Four, separating the idea of the Gang as a post-Mao ideological construction from the Gang as a reference to a set of historical figures with intersecting understandings of socialist policies, cultures, and futures. Benjamin Kindler excavates Yao Wenyuan’s writing on the challenges of socialist cultural production, particularly the entrenched link between wage-labour and the concept of the author. Mei Li Inouye reassesses Jiang Qing’s role in developing model operas through attention to the substance of her career, including her exposure to traditional and folk operas, international musicals, and modern dramas. A. C. Baecker examines conspiracy film (yinmou dianying) criticism and its role in defining a genre of revolutionary filmmaking identifiable by thematic and stylistic markers, ultimately positioning the Gang of Four as cinematic auteurs. The panellists argue that in order to understand the transition from a contentious yet shared pursuit of socialist futures to post-revolutionary consensus, the Gang of Four’s conflation across multiple registers must be dismantled.

A. C. Baecker, “The Birth of a Genre: Conspiracy Film Criticism and the Gang of Four as Cinematic Auteur”

In the months following the Gang of Four’s arrest, prominent film industry workers in China published articles denouncing the Gang’s influence in Cultural Revolution film production. A canon of movies called conspiracy films (yinmou dianying) quickly emerged, films that were officially censured for complicity in Gang attempts to usurp the party through control of mass entertainment. Conspiracy film criticism consolidated Deng-aligned cadre control over the major institutions of film production in China, yet today its conclusions often serve as the basis for scholarship on film production during the Cultural Revolution, shedding its political implications in a consensus view of Cultural Revolution films as works of propaganda, not art.
In this paper, I argue that conspiracy film criticism effectively positioned the Gang of Four as a cinematic auteur, executing a singular artistic vision with consistent stylistic markers and thematic messaging. Conspiracy film criticism identified a signature Gang style (bangqi) recognisable across the conspiracy film canon. Further, by prosecuting or administratively punishing the film industry professionals who were involved in producing Gang-affiliated films, conspiracy film criticism linked the stylistic and thematic markers of late Cultural Revolution films with criminality. Using the 1975 film Juelie (Breaking with Old Ideas) as a case study, I explore Juelie’s production as an industrial process, contrasting the production’s structurally diffuse distribution of agency with the centralised account of Gang control in conspiracy discourse. In addition, I explore how the presentation of Jiang Qing as Gang ring-leader gendered the Gang’s authorial voice and contributed to its presumed illegitimacy.

Benjamin Kindler, “Overcoming the Author, Overcoming the Wage: Yao Wenyuan, Zhang Chunqiao, and the Theoretical Legacy of the ‘Bourgeois Right’”

In his 1958 article On Manuscript Fees, Yao Wenyuan asserted that “the system of manuscript fees is a remnant of the system of bourgeois right, one which itself incorporates signs of the opposition between mental and manual labour in capitalist society.” The apparently innocuous issue of how authors should be paid as part of a series of debates around the problematic of the “bourgeois right” under socialism, itself sparked by the publication of Zhang Chunqiao’s Smash the Ideology of the Bourgeois Right. This presentation takes up the “bourgeois right” as a central component of radical thought in the Chinese Revolution and its proposed relation to new cultural subjects. This conceptual vocabulary, drawn from Marx’s 1875 Critique of the Gotha Program re-emerged during the Cultural Revolution when Zhang and Yao sought to develop a new textbook on political economy presenting methods for super-ceding capitalist norms of distribution. Zhang and Yao argued that continued reliance on material incentives would re-produce the atomisation of labour and so inhibit the formation of communist social relations. I argue that the demands for the transcendence of the wage-form through the formation of a communist approach to labour were intimately linked to problems of culture. Furthermore, for Yao and others, the problematic of bourgeois right also extended to the challenge of overcoming the “author” as an individual subject of cultural production, investing cultural production with the task of creating the ideological conditions for the transcendence of material incentives.

Mei Li Inouye, “Jiang Qing, the Model Works, and the Confluence of 20th Century Theatre Reforms”

Jiang Qing (1914–1991) was regaled during the late Mao era as the mastermind behind the Cultural Revolution operas, ballets, and symphonic productions that came to be known as the model works (yangban xi). Since the post-Mao era, complex cultural, economic, and political landscapes have obscured the nature of Jiang’s role in modernising, politicising, and nationalising Peking opera during the Cultural Revolution—and what her efforts might mean in the larger context of cultural production and cultural politics during the Cultural Revolution. By examining Jiang Qing’s career intersections with traditional opera, modern drama, folk operas, and international film musicals, this paper conducts an interdisciplinary examination of the aesthetic influences that fueled the creation and production of Cultural Revolution model works. Engaging political theorist Claude Lefort’s theorisation of totalitarian societies, I offer a dramatic reassessment of the culture of the Cultural Revolution by illustrating how Jiang’s synthesis of aesthetic practices and theatre reform enabled her to restructure art with politics and politics with art.

Papers on Modern History IV

4:00 pm – 5:45 pm
Room A

  • Chaired by Ines Eben von Racknitz
  • Richard Van-Ness Simmons, “The Emergence of the Sinophone Diaspora in the Southern Seas: From the Perspective of the 17th-Century ‘Selden’ Map of China”
  • Christina Till, “Of Documents Lost and Found: Sanshi Documents and Chinese Provincial Archives”
  • Ines Eben von Racknitz, “Prince Gong as a Statesman: European and Chinese Concepts of Dynasty and Rulership”
  • Georgijs Dunajevs, “Two Accounts of an Obscure Secret Society Rebellion in 1870s Gansu”

Richard Van Ness Simmons, “The Emergence of the Sinophone Diaspora in the Southern Seas: From the Perspective of the 17th Century ‘Selden’ Map of China”

The Selden Map of China held by the Bodleian Library of Oxford University provides a vivid array of geographic evidence that enriches our understanding of the formation of the Hokkien speaking Sinophone diaspora in Southeast Asia during the 17th century. Acquired from the estate of John Selden, the eminent London lawyer and scholar, who had obtained it in 1653, the map was likely drawn in the late Míng. Though its exact provenance is unclear, the Bodleian Library notes “the Map’s depiction of that area was to remain the most accurate for another two centuries.” It portrays the southern China coast and includes many regions around the southern sea, including the Philippines, Borneo, Java, Sumatra, and the countries of Southeast Asia. The map also renders a detailed set of interconnected shipping routes, all with compass bearings radiating out from the port of Quánzhōu, a key point of origin of Hokkien speakers. This study examines the background and significant features of the map and considers what the sea routes and depiction of 17th-century Asian sea travel imply with regard to early Sinophone migration in the region and the spread of the Chinese language. The early migrations led for example to the so-called Hokkien-affiliated “language of the Sangleys” that arose in the Philippines in the 17th century (Klöter 2011). Overall, we find a finely detailed and richly informative congruence between the Hokkein speaking Chinese diaspora’s modern geographic distribution and the 17th-century sea routes indicated on the Selden map.

Christina Till, “Of Documents Lost and Found: Sanshi Documents and Chinese Provincial Archives”

According to a popular narrative in Chinese archival studies, late Qing provincial archival holdings suffered greatly from the encroachment of foreign powers in the border regions of the Qing empire. A great number of documents, mostly from the provincial administrations of the late Qing dynasty in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, are supposed to be “dispersed and lost” (sanshi). Chinese archival historians attribute this loss either to the destruction of archives following the consolidation of foreign powers in the border regions or to the fragmentation and relocation of archives and documents beyond the Qing borders. This paper is first in trying to provide a more comprehensive approach to an understanding of the histories of archival holdings from the late Qing period at the northeastern border region of today’s Heilongjiang and Jilin provinces. This also includes an account of the destruction and fragmentation of archival holdings that were a result of the conflicts of the nineteenth century. Retracing the history of provincial archival holdings will not only help understand the overall development of archives in the late Qing, but also give an account of the socio-political circumstances that allowed for the production and preservation of archival documents in what is often referred to as “the periphery.” Moreover, the restitution of documents previously held in Russian archives to China in the 1950s proves that, in some cases, the existence of late Qing archival documents from the border regions influenced Sino-foreign relations long after the end of the Qing dynasty.

Ines Eben von Racknitz, “Prince Gong as a Statesman: European and Chinese Concepts of Dynasty and Rulership”

Differing concepts of sovereignty, dynasty, and rulership were the cornerstones, that framed the diplomatic negotiations between Great Britain, France, and China accompanying the dramatic events of the China war of 1860. They became evident in the political interactions between the British and the French plenipotentiaries, the Earl of Elgin and Baron Gros, and the representative of the Xianfeng emperor, his 26-year-old brother, Prince Gong, who was quite unexpectedly entrusted with a rather complex political crisis after his imperial brother had left Beijing in flight. The war ended in a devastating loss for the Chinese rulers when the Europeans burned their summer palace, the Yuanming yuan. Interestingly, during the entire negotiations, the British and French were aware of the Manchu identity of the Chinese emperors and the fragility of their rulership. How then did British, how did the French conceptualise rulership and dynasty in China? How did they fashion themselves as representatives of the British and French empires respectively? How did the Qing-dynasty present herself in 1860, and does the Manchurian identity of the house of Aisin Gioro play a role in the diplomatic negotiations? Which concepts did the Manchu rulers and the Chinese bureaucrats have of European dynasties? It is the aim of this paper, to analyse, clarify, and differentiate concepts of rulership and dynasty, that were employed in the transnational political context of the diplomatic negotiations between Great Britain, France, and China during the China War of 1860.

Georgijs Dunajevs, “Two Accounts of an Obscure Secret Society Rebellion in 1870s Gansu”

The Qing history was persistently marred by many rebellions, which, political and economic factors aside, were often either started or supported by sectarian religious movements and secret societies. Some, like the Tiandihui 天地會 and the Gelaohui 哥老會 gained empire-wide publicity and left a long-lasting impact on China’s politics, economy, and society. There was, naturally, also a number of local, small-time secret societies, most of which fell into relative or full obscurity. Such was the case of the Qiaoqiaohui 悄悄會 (“The Clandestine Society”), active in Central-Western Gansu in the 1870s, which, besides being the namesake of an earlier sect from the Qianlong-Jiaqing eras, has been virtually lost to history.
The present paper stems from the author’s fortuitous discovery of an untitled document in the collection of Pēteris Šmits at the National Library of Latvia that sheds some light on the history and nature of the Qiaoqiaohui. Along with an essay by a local official in the Republican-era Gaotai County Gazetteer, these appear to be very rare sources of knowledge on the activities of this rebellious cult. Both accounts share a strong supernatural aspect, featuring tropes not dissimilar to ones found in the classical Chinese supernatural narrative zhiguai. I explore how the image of the society’s members merges with that commonly attributed to rebels in literature, as well as how its remembrance is preserved in local customs, making the putatively historical Qiaoqiaohui rather a part of local folklore than pure history.

Future Thoughts: Conceptions of the Future in China

19th–21st Century
11:00 am – 12:45 pm
Room A

  • Organised by Christine Moll-Murata
  • Christine Moll-Murata, “China’s Future as Anticipated by Economists and Financial Specialists in the Republic of China, 1911–1949”
  • Laura Pflug, “A Radiant Future in East Asia? Gain and Risk Expectations in the Heyday of the Nuclear Age”
  • Laura De Giorgi, “The Future in Human Hands. Chinese Approaches towards Artificial Intelligence”
  • Jörn-Carsten Gottwald, Anna Caspari, “The Evolution of Financial Governance with Chinese Characteristics”
  • Harriet Zurndorfer, Discussant

In this panel, historians and political scientists analyse historical and contemporary Chinese concepts of the future from the 1930s to nowadays. During the late Qing and Republican period, weilai (未來 remote future) and jianglai (將來 imminent future) were applied increasingly to legitimise particular policies. One example is the argumentation current in the 1930s for the introduction of the fabi (法幣) currency replacing the centuries-old silver standard, discussed in the paper by Christine Moll-Murata. The rise of the nuclear age in the 1950s and 1960s triggered perspectives on the future that oscillated between hope and fear. Laura Pflug’s paper looks at the rhetoric of future images in the conflict between the Republic of China on Taiwan and the People’s Republic of China from the 1950s until the detonation of the Chinese nuclear bomb in 1964. The contribution by Jörn-Carsten Gottwald and Anna Caspari shows how under the impact of the financial crisis of 2007/2008, new concepts of the future of financial transaction on a global scale were developed in the framework of big paradigms such as “Belt-and-Road” or “China Dream”. Laura De Giorgi’s paper focuses on Chinese attitudes towards Artificial Intelligence and offers an explanation of how “futurist” technology is turning to the past as a source of confidence and legitimation, thus echoing patterns of the nineteenth-century reflections on the future concept.

Christine Moll-Murata, “China’s Future as Anticipated by Economists and Financial Specialists in the Republic of China, 1911–1949”

As analyses of early twentieth-century newspapers and journals show, the terms weilai (未來 remote future) and jianglai (將來 imminent future) increasingly appeared in argumentation and pleas for legitimating political action. This paper takes a closer look at statements on the political economy and aims to identify the particular importance of the year 1933 in reflections on the future of that economy. In that year, a New Year’s supplement was included in the popular journal Dongfang zazhi in which more than a hundred intellectuals and figures of public life, comprising economists, entrepreneurs, and bankers, formulated their “dreams” both for China’s and their individual futures. The evidence shows that the desire expressed most firmly was to regain political sovereignty and to realise greater social equality. With regard to the economy, independence, but also integration into the world economy on equal terms were considered the most pressing issues. The paper will analyse how the future was deployed as a means to legitimate the political action of the ruling party Guomindang, including fiscal policies and the introduction of a new currency, the fabi 法幣. The disastrous inflation during the war years, probably the main reason for the demise and exodus of the Nationalist government, provoked many to look into a bleak, dystopian future and helped the Communist Party to succeed, again with a political agenda that was full of promises for the future but based on socialist principles.

Laura Pflug, “A Radiant Future in East Asia? Gain and Risk Expectations in the Heyday of the Nuclear Age”

In the heyday of the nuclear age in the 1950s and 1960s, prospects for the future oscillated between hope and fear. Expectations of peaceful progress on the one hand and dire destruction on the other were also present on both sides of the Taiwan Strait, and Cold War slogans insinuating a coming “nuclear war” or clamoring for “world peace” could be heard. When in 1964 the People’s Republic of China detonated its first atomic bomb and thus became a nuclear power, this permanently changed the strategic landscape of East Asia and aggravated Taiwan’s already tense security situation. This also became a turning point in expectations of the future.

The rhetoric of future images in the conflict between the Republic of China on Taiwan and the People’s Republic of China from the 1950s until the detonation of the Chinese nuclear bomb in 1964 is the topic of this presentation. It will address the questions of what hopes, plans and fears were expressed by both sides and what developments, in part contrary to propagandistic rhetoric, lay behind these images of the future. Recently, with the invocation of a “new Cold War” in some quarters, the nuclear aspect in the conflict between Taiwan and the People’s Republic has also reappeared in the international debate. The issues discussed are therefore highly topical again today, making us realize that history has by no means “ended”.

Laura De Giorgi, “The Future in Human Hands. Chinese Approaches towards Artificial Intelligence”

This paper looks at the reception of Yuval Harari’s book A Short History of the Future (in Chinese Weilai jianshi 未来 简史) in 2017 in order to analyse how the challenges to the concept of “human-driven” by the impact of Artificial Intelligence (AI) are framed by official and social media discourse on the future in China. Harari’s book has prompted several reflections and comments on the topic in newspapers and websites, boosted also by the forecast of the rapid rise of the People’s Republic of China as a leading world technological power in this field. The topic of the impact of AI, which has also been touched upon by the philosopher Zhao Tingyang, draws on Harari’s historical perspective. Although Harari is sceptical about the meaning of the past experience for governing the future, Chinese readers seem to believe otherwise. Considering the broadly optimistic view which dominates Chinese approaches to technical singularity, the paper will investigate the place that has been given in China to historical imagination as a source of confidence in the capacity of humans to control future technological changes.

Jörn-Carsten Gottwald, Anna Caspari, “The Evolution of Financial Governance with Chinese Characteristics

In 2016, the People’s Republic of China hosted the G20 Leaders’ Summit in Hangzhou. The Chinese initiatives presented there linked domestic reform policies with the future G20 agenda and emphasised the leadership role of the PRC on the global stage. This paper aims to trace the emergence of Chinese reform concepts for financial governance both historically, and in view of current PRC policies on global financial governance. While the Republic of China had been a major participant at the Bretton Woods Conference which defined the basic pillars of the post-WWII order, the PRC remained outside and at the fringes of this predominantly trans-Atlantic system for more than thirty years. The first steps for China to enter the global arena occurred in the early Reform era but were dominated by domestic development priorities. However, once the global financial crisis of 2007/2008 shook the existing order and led to the establishment of the new G20 at summit level, an initially reluctant Chinese leadership found itself under increasing pressure to develop concepts for the future of financial governance. The paper identifies the emergence of key aspects of China’s ideas regarding the future of global financial governance with a theoretical approach to its key concepts, including the ‘China Dream’ (中国梦), ‘Building a Community with a Shared Future for Mankind’ (构建人类命运共同体), and recent policies regarding financial technology (fintech; 金融科技).

Papers on Modern History III

9:00 am – 10:45 am
Room A

  • Chaired by Eric Vanden Bussche
  • Luke Yin, “A Transnational Bigamy: Gender, Marriage, and Law in Treaty Port Shanghai”
  • Eric Vanden Bussche, “Law and Ethnic Identity in China’s Southwest Borderlands, 1920s–30s”
  • Ylber Marku, “Global Encounters: China, Albania, and the International Communist Movement during the Cold War”
  • Jinping Ma, “The China Association of the Federation of British Industries”

Luke Yin, “A Transnational Bigamy: Gender, Marriage, and Law in Treaty Port Shanghai”

On the 24th of December 1909, a Chinese international student at Yale Law School, Guan Ruilin 关瑞麟, married a 16-year-old New Haven Girl, Dorothy Dorr in Hartford, Connecticut. Little did he realise then that around three years later, the Chinese wife whom he had wed before travelling to the US would sue him for bigamy in the Mixed Court of Shanghai International Settlement.  The case raises issues of sex and race in the context of Western imperialism. Sex and race are crucial aspects of the global colonial discourse of modernity that prevailed at the turn of the twentieth century. This paper is concerned with the shape assumed by this discourse in geographically and culturally disparate areas. Locality produced variations in the manifestation of global phenomena. The bigamy case in this paper occurred at a crucial moment of modern Chinese history: the transformation of China from an Empire to a Republic. Sino-American relations were also at an important juncture. The paper argues that interpersonal relationships cannot take place in isolation from these political and economic developments. The records of the mixed-race marriage, its bigamous character, the divorce, and the aftermath of all this enables a re-envisioning of gender, marriage, and legal practices in both China and the US in the context of the relations between the two societies.

Eric Vanden Bussche, “Law and Ethnic Identity in China’s Southwest Borderlands, 1920s–30s”

This paper sheds new light on the relationship between legal institutions and the formation of identities along China’s peripheries by examining the pluralistic legal practices in the Sino-Burmese borderlands during the 1920s and 30s. Throughout this period, Chinese authorities in Yunnan province and British colonial officials in Upper Burma held periodic meetings to jointly adjudicate legal cases arising from cross-border disputes and crimes by drawing on local customs and rules. The origins of these periodic meetings can be traced to concerns over rising tensions between local ethnic groups in the Sino-Burmese borderlands during the early twentieth century. Although this practice survived the collapse of the Qing dynasty in China in 1911 and persisted until the late 1930s, the Chinese and the British had to regularly negotiate adjustments to this pluralistic legal system to adapt it to the changing nature of their rule. Indigenous responses to Chinese state-building efforts also played a pivotal role in reshaping these legal practices.
Drawing on Chinese, Taiwanese, and British archival sources, this paper has three objectives. First, it investigates how this pluralistic legal system influenced state-building efforts along with one of China’s most ethnically diverse borderlands. Second, it analyses how legal practices transformed collective identities among the border populations by creating new discourses of ethnic identity and national belonging. Third, this paper emphasises the wider implications and the legacy of these legal practices in the conceptualisation of the Chinese nation-state as well as its place in Chinese legal history.

Ylber Marku, “Global Encounters: China, Albania, and the International Communist Movement during the Cold War”

The dynamics of the relationship between China and Albania—one of the Cold War alliances least studied by scholars—in the period 1961–78 provides insights into the global reach of China’s revolution. Following the Sino-Soviet split in the early 1960s, Tirana intensified efforts to build an extended network of relations with communist parties in Eastern and Western Europe, Africa, and South America, with the intention of securing their adherence to rigid ideological principles and gaining recognition and legitimation for the Sino-Albanian Marxist-Leninist cause. China’s ambition was to supplant the Soviet Union as leader of the international communist movement and to establish influence over a number of newly-independent countries.
Based on newly released archival sources, my research reveals how China’s revolution, through Albania, reached protagonists operating in distant contexts, often transcending ideological boundaries established in the context of the Cold War. Yet, the reorientation of China’s domestic and foreign policy from 1972, most significantly showed by the Sino-American normalisation, dramatically impacted the international communist movement. These new dynamics were also a sign of the limited reach of the Chinese struggle against the Soviet Union but were also a sign that revisionism (and the struggle against it) was a constructed term by two countries—China and Albania—whose models of communism had clearly shown the limits of their own regimes. In fact, China understood such limits and reshaped its foreign and domestic policy, and pursued political pragmatism rather than ideological radicalism, to which Albania responded by severing ties with China in 1978.

Jinping Ma, “The China Association of the Federation of British Industries”

With the rising of the Chinese economy in the international market and the processing of Brexit, Sino-British economic future has received unprecedented attention. The China Association, which existed for more than a century, has been playing a key role in nongovernment trades and affecting Foreign Office policies facing China. Working closely alongside the London Chamber of Commerce, local Chambers, the Federation of British Industries and the Foreign Office, the Association took on the grievances of British traders in China and presented these to the British government and the Chinese authorities. Many scholarships combed British industrial policies toward China and the China Association. Yet, they focus mainly around and after 1949 on the Communist Party diplomatic policies. Although these are fundamental in deciding the current commercial setup, closer examination of these bilateral relations increasingly calls for attention to social and cultural factors accompanied by trading activities to an earlier stage. This history was not disappeared from later trading. Rather, I argue that memories from this period continuously affected later policymaking.
This study will take a social and cultural perspective in examining the Sino-British trade history. By analysing minutes, committee papers, and corresponding files of the China Association from 1880s to 1961, this paper will present a vivid picture beyond political and institutional history. It will also demonstrate how foreign policies and individual commercial activities were inseparable from social processes and cultural elements. By exploring the history of this single association, this research probes into how nations, organizations, and individuals are manipulated to achieve their respective interests.

Statecraft & Identity Creation in the Border Regions of the Qing

9:00 am – 12:45 pm
Room 1

  • Organised by Lars Peter Laamann
  • Chaired by Lars Peter Laamann, Wei-chieh Tsai
  • Siping Shan, “Why Could a Late Qing Mongol Prince Not Establish His Own Distillery?”
  • Kang Wonmook, “The Qing Empire’s First Encounter with ‘the Xiyangs’”
  • Akira Yanagisawa, “The Eight Banner System and Ethnic Transformation in 17–19 c. Manchuria”
  • Wei-chieh Tsai, “A Comparative Study on Han Chinese Settler Nativisation along the Qing Empire’s Inner Asian and Maritime Frontiers.”
  • Lars Peter Laamann, “Tungusic Encounters: Manchuria as Late Imperial Russia’s Ultimate Border Zone”
  • Emily Dawes, “Qing Statecraft and Muslim Identity Creation in Amdo during the 1895 Muslim Rebellion”
  • Jinxin Qi, “Designed Identities: Hanjun Bannermen and Naval Battalions in Qing Heilongjiang”
  • Yingzi Wang, “Mongolian or Manchurian? The Jerim League during the Late Qing Reforms”

The Qing Empire was as much defined by its vast border areas as it was by the provinces inhabited by the Han Chinese majority. Whereas the Manchu and Mongol subjects were governed by as banners (Man.: gūsa, Mon: khooshuu, Chin.: qi 旗), socio-military units under the direct command of the dynasty, other populations (Tibet, Turkic Xinjiang, south-western peoples) remained subject to their traditional authorities, who had been effectively co-opted into executing the policies of the Qing state. This panel, divided into two chronological sub-panels, aims to illustrate the polyethnic reality of the northern Qing border zones by means of eight exemplary contributions.

Shan Siping introduces the economic policies of the Mongolian elites, by means of a Mongol prince planning to establish a distillery in his own banner area. The problems he encounters reveal an emerging intercontinental economy. Kang Wonmook analyses the Qing perception of resident Westerners (‘Xiyang people’), chiefly by means of imperial documents in Manchu, as a discrete socio-ethnic group comparable to bannermen (jalan-i janggin) or even lamas. Yanagisawa Akira discusses the complexity of ethnic identity within the banner system. The centralised organisation of the Manchu banner companies nevertheless retained the integrity of the original tribal communities. Tsai Wei-chieh deals with the interface between statecraft and ethnic identity. His paper explores Qing regulations of its subjects’ status and identity and concludes that the imperial policies in Mongolia and Taiwan produced remarkably similar results.
In the second sub-panel, the cohabitation of the northern Qing border zones by Han Chinese, Manchus, Mongols, and Turks will be in the focus. The panel contributions illustrate the correlation between the Qing government’s administrative measures and the social cohesion of the affected regions. Altogether, our eight papers demonstrate the close relationship between the central administration and local identity case by case.

Emily Dawes analyses the interaction by Muslims with Qing officials in the Amdo region around 1895, where Qing officials directly intervened to settle conflicts between ‘ethnic’ or ‘religious’ communal interests. For the ‘new policies’ (xinzheng 新政) decade of the 1910s, Qi Jinxin compares the Chinese migrants to Heilongjiang who had joined the Qing naval battalions in northern Manchuria with Banner organisations of similar origin, arguing that the banner system assimilated Han migrants in terms of occupation, though not in administrative (‘ethnic’) terms. Wang Yingzi takes up the Xinzheng thread, analysing the effects of the administrative reforms on the Mongolian Jerim League, which—for the sake of regional stability—saw itself divided into a Mongolian western part and absorbed into the newly created Manchurian provinces to the east. Lars Laamann, finally, introduces the role of Russian diplomacy, scientific interest, and Orthodox missions during the late Qing as well as during the early Republican era. After the Treaty of Aigun in 1857, Tsarist Russia effectively intervened in the ethnic complexity of the northern border regions.

Siping Shan, “Why Could a Late Qing Mongol Prince Not Establish His Own Distillery?”

In the spring of 1891, a secret report presented to the Qing emperor Zai Tian, also known as the Guangxu emperor, indicated that a Mongol prince of the Aohan banner was trying to establish a distillery on his own domain – an issue which obviously proved to be very sensitive to the emperor. Therefore, secret investigators were deployed by the emperor himself, involving officials from the Grand Council to county magistrates, from the imperial censor to local special agents: every level of the imperial administration was set into motion for this investigation.
In this context, there were two key questions which remained unanswered in the report, and which are extremely important for historical research to understand the nature of this event. Firstly, what motivated a distinguished Mongol prince to establish his own distillery? Secondly, why did such behaviour prove so sensitive during the late Qing period? In answering these questions, this paper will reveal the dynamic nature of the Qing frontier policy, as well as the transformation of local society and power structures in Mongolia. Moreover, these changes can be clearly linked to the emergence of an integrated market in pre-modern Asia, with truly global connotations.

Kang Wonmook, “The Qing Empire’s First Encounter with ‘the Xiyangs’”

This article examines the ‘naturalisation’ process within the Qing Empire, exemplified by the integration of the ‘Xiyang 西洋 people’ as imperial subjects. The Qing empire continually encountered diverse East Eurasian populations during its expansion, who were enlisted into its unique institutional invention known as the Eight Banners. Enlisted peoples included Tungusic Jurchens, Chinese, Koreans, Uighurs and Tibetans along the northern borders and, in the empire’s south, the Vietnamese (Yue 越) and other population groups. From the earliest beginnings of the Qing until the 1820s, Qing rulers thus bestowed on the enlisted populations a new identity as Qing subjects, employing these as translators, ambassadors and negotiators in the diverse ‘foreign’ affairs of the Qing empire. This paper will argue that the same policy was applied to the Europeans serving the Qing dynasty, who enjoyed the considerable privilege of being allowed to reside in the Inner City, which was the exclusive prerogative for Bannermen. Jesuit Xiyang people were bestowed with the banner title jalan-i janggin and were frequently regarded on a par with Tibetan lamas by Qing rulers.

Akira Yanagisawa, “The Eight Banner System and Ethnic Transformation in 17–19 c. Manchuria”

The present population distribution of non-Chinese groups in Northeast China (including the Hulun Buir region) is, in principle, based on the placement of regular and semi-regular Eight Banner garrisons founded in the early and mid-Qing periods. Moreover, the names and boundaries of these populations are at least to some extent connected to the development of the Banner system. The Qing authorities adhered to a concept of “not to divide the clans and tribes” when they organised companies (Man. niru) from the local populations, and thus gave each company a rather fractionalised “ethnic” name. Of course, it is difficult to say to what extent these names reflected “real” ethnic identities, in particular since some companies were composed of more than one single ethnic group. Although the “ethnic” names could well change over time, they attained ethnic substance by the end of the Qing era and proved instrumental in the construction of ethnic identities. This paper exemplifies the process of ethno-cultural formation within companies with “ethnic” names—such as Solon, Dagūr, Sibe, Gūwalca, Barhū, and Oroncon—by means of archival sources and data collected through by interviewing descendants of banner people.

Wei-chieh Tsai, “A Comparative Study on Han Chinese Settler Nativisation along the Qing Empire’s Inner Asian and Maritime Frontiers”

The Qing empire gradually expanded toward the Inner Asian borderlands and maritime frontiers. Rapid population growth and territorial expansion made it possible for Han Chinese settlers to move to the Qing frontier regions from the interior, which made settler nativisation along the frontiers a major task for the Qing authorities. In this paper, “nativisation” is meant to indicate a phenomenon whereby settlers acquired the identity of the native population, through acculturation, intermarriage, identificational and socio-legal assimilation. In the field of Qing history, the sinicisation school provides a prevailing model, which stipulates that all ethnic minorities on the Chinese frontiers ultimately become absorbed (“civilised”) by the more highly developed Han Chinese culture. Accordingly, the “colonisers” should not be expected to “degenerate” into colonised subjects and nativisation thus constitutes a subversion of the invincible civilising power of imperial colonisers. This paper draws on archival sources to compare Han Chinese settler nativisation in Mongolia and Taiwan, analysing civic status and identity, as well as enclosure policies. Whilst it will be argued that Han nativisation in both regions was remarkably similar, there were significant differences in the methods of assimilation: Qing attitude and policies differed considerably depending on the precise nature of the indigenous peoples in question.

Lars Peter Laamann, “Tungusic Encounters: Manchuria as Late Imperial Russia’s Ultimate Border Zone”

This paper attempts to reassess the early modern scientific quest for the Asian Other along and beyond the banks of the Amur. The Muscovite empire had been expanding eastwards through Siberia from the early seventeenth century, influencing the way in which Russians regarded the Ugric, Mongolian and Tungusic populations they encountered, as well as how they perceived themselves. The elites in Tsarist Russia paid particular attention to the Manchus in Qing China, studying their language as well as cultural traits, and collecting Manchu texts. The literature which the linguists and explorers produced still forms the basis for our understanding of the ethnic groups which were to become marginalised during the expansion of the Russian and Chinese empires.
It will be argued that the pursuit of Manchu studies can thus be seen as an expansion of a fascination with, chiefly, the Tungusic populations of the Russian Far East. This fascination helps explain the degree of expertise towards the end of the Qing era – by which time the pervasive use of Manchu in China had already ceded to become the specialist knowledge of the few. The study of Manchuria as an extended border region of Russian Siberia will be exemplified in this paper by three areas of investigation: 1. Linguistics (A.O. Ivanovskii / Aлексеий Осип Ивановский); 2. Ethnography (S.M. Shirokogoroff / Сергей Михайлович Широкогоров); and 3. Religion (S.V. Lipovtsov / Степан Васильевич Липовцов).

Emily Dawes, “Qing Statecraft and Muslim Identity Creation in Amdo during the 1895 Muslim Rebellion”

The Amdo region is a religiously and ethnically diverse, geographically isolated area encompassing parts of Qinghai, Gansu and Sichuan. Throughout the nineteenth century, the Qing state directly intervened in the social and religious orders of Amdo, imposing legal frameworks, supervising the economy, and defining the roles of officials and local nobility; however, because of the isolation of Amdo and the many other obstacles facing the Qing state, political authority was fragmented. Muslims in Amdo at various times accepted and rejected this intervention, using Qing courts to settle religious disputes, and using violence and other forms of resistance when Qing policies were not accepted, as was the case for the 1895 Rebellion. The 1895 Muslim Rebellion began as a disagreement between Sufi menhuan and spread across the Amdo region as a rebellion against local Qing administration. This paper will examine the interaction between Muslim identity formation and Qing statecraft during the 1895 Muslim Rebellion. It questions the nature of Qing statecraft in the Amdo region during the late nineteenth century, and also how the Chinese Muslims responded to Qing assertions of authority in order to build a discrete identity of their own.

Jinxin Qi, “Designed Identities: Hanjun Bannermen and Naval Battalions in Qing Heilongjiang”

Hanjun 漢軍 troops who served in the Eight Banner system as Han Chinese, played a crucial role in the identity creation of the Manchus, conceptualised as Manzu 滿族 in Chinese research on the Qing. It is, therefore, all the more astounding that Hanjun is only rarely referred to in the archival documentation of Jilin and Heilongjiang from the early Qing period, both as far as the constitutional affiliation with the Metropolitan Banners were concerned or as garrisons in the Han provinces. Early Han-Chinese military migrants in Heilongjiang were inevitably bound to the Eight Banner system, yet classified by occupation as naval battalion troops 水師營, postal couriers 驛站 or official manor keepers 官莊. Hanjun in Heilongjiang in general originated from naval battalion personnel but gained a superior status as bannermen throughout the Qing period. Instead of dwelling on the well-discussed correlation between Hanjun and civilians 民人, this paper compares Hanjun with the naval battalions, an associate Banner organisation with similar origins but different legal status. By means of archival sources, personal statements naval troops and fieldwork data, it will be argued that the Banner system shaped the identity of Han subjects as an occupational group, but not necessarily by altering Han Chinese into Manzu in ethnic terms, even after 1911.

Yingzi Wang, “Mongolian or Manchurian? The Jerim League during the Late Qing Reforms”

When it comes to the creation of local identity, there are few factors that would outweigh the name of the surrounding country. The Jerim League was, for most of the Qing era, within Mongolia, controlled under a dual-management system, in which the League-Banner system and a civilian administrative system coexisted. As a consequence of the late Qing reforms (xinzheng 新政), the number of Han Chinese migrants entering the Jerim League territory increased significantly. The new demographic distribution warranted a series of administrative changes, leading to new institutions which appeared in the eastern part of the Jerim League. This region, bordering Manchuria, was divided in 1907 into three jurisdictions: Shengjing 盛京, Jilin 吉林 and Heilongjiang 黑龍江—mirroring the threefold division of Manchuria into the “Three Provinces of the North East”. While the eastern half of the Jerim League became absorbed into the new Manchurian provinces, its Inner Mongolian west maintained considerable independence—a division which continues to exist until this day. This article argues that in order to maintain stability and to prevent the division of the Inner Mongolian region, the League-Banner system governing the Jerim League had to be adjusted, its eastern half becoming part of post-xinzheng Manchuria. The Jerim League reforms are therefore a case study of Qing frontier policy and of multi-ethnic administration on the cusp of the Republican era.

Economic Relations between Socialist Eastern Europe and China in the 1980s

Theory and Practice
4:00 pm – 5:45 pm
Room 1

  • Organised by Péter Vámos
  • Péter Vámos, Chair
  • Péter Vámos, “Do Hungarian Economists ‘Share Blame’ for China’s ‘Monstrous Turn’? The Influence of Hungarian Economic Reform Theories and Practices on China’s Market Reforms in the 1980s”
  • Jovan Čavoški, “Learning from Each Other: Exchanges between Chinese and Yugoslav State-Party Study Delegations in the Early Period of Reform and Opening-Up”
  • Daniela Kolenovská, “Economic Bridge over Ideological Divide: The PRC and Czechoslovakia in the 1980s”
  • Miroslaw Sikora, “US-Inspired ‘China Differential’ as an Opportunity for Comecon’s Lagging Technology: The Case of Poland in the 1980s”
  • Jan Zofka, Discussant

As China’s reform and opening-up policy unfolded in the late 1970s, both China and the European socialist countries saw renewed opportunities in rebuilding economic relations with each other. In China, Deng Xiaoping’s reform program resulted in the shift from the primacy of politics to that of economics. During the early phase of reforms, the PRC’s leaders paid close attention to the theory and practice of economic reforms in Eastern Europe, especially Yugoslavia and Hungary. As the general direction of economic reforms, establishing a socialist market economy by incorporating market elements into the socialist system, and harmonising plan and market was similar, Chinese economists and politicians were keen to learn from Yugoslav and Hungarian reform experiences. The first two papers of the panel look at how Chinese policymakers learned from Yugoslavia and Hungarian reform experiences in the first decade of China’s reform and opening up. Eastern European leaders were also keen to capitalise on China’s reforms and opening up. The third paper looks at how the Czechoslovak leadership attempted to make political gains from increasing the amount of trade with China and the fourth paper analyses how Poland could make use of the capitalist West‘s more liberal attitude towards China in terms of advanced technology exports than towards the Soviet Union and its satellites and gained access to advanced Western technologies through China.

Péter Vámos, “Do Hungarian Economists ‘Share Blame’ for China’s ‘Monstrous Turn’? The Influence of Hungarian Economic Reform Theories and Practices on China’s Market Reforms in the 1980s”

In July 2019, János Kornai, the world-famous theorist of the socialist economic system and one of the most influential reform economists in China in the past four decades, wrote an article entitled “Economists share blame for China’s ‘monstrous’ turn: Western intellectuals must now seek to contain Beijing.” Kornai writes about the moral responsibility of Western intellectuals, including himself, who “not only watched China’s transformation but actively contributed to these changes.” Kornai took part in the Bashanlun conference in 1985, where western economists and leading Chinese policymakers discussed how the country should be transformed into a market economy. Kornai was among the most influential of those foreign economists whose theoretical writings were closely studied in China. As part of this learning process, Chinese economists and policymakers also studied the practice of the reform of the economic management system in Hungary. Starting from 1979 Chinese delegations of economists visited Hungary and Hungarian delegations were invited to China in order to acquaint Chinese economic policymakers with Hungarian reform practices. During the early 1980s, the phrase “Hungarian model” was widely used in Chinese economic publications. Based on Hungarian archival sources and Chinese theoretical publications, this paper looks at the details of these interactions. It attempts to identify the contribution of Hungarian economic theorists to Chinese reforms and assess the impact of Hungary‘s experience with its reform of the economic management system on Chinese policies in the 1980s.

Jovan Čavoški, “Learning from Each Other: Exchanges between Chinese and Yugoslav State-Party Study Delegations in the Early Period of Reform and Opening-Up”

Despite the ups and downs in Sino-Yugoslav relations during the first three decades of the Cold War, with the initiation of tentative socio-economic reforms in China after the death of Mao Zedong and especially after the Third Plenum of the CCP Central Committee in December 1978, Yugoslavia and its experience with socialist reforms became one of the initial role models for the Chinese leadership in their reform experiments. This was more than obvious with the unprecedented increase in the number of exchanges of study delegations during the first few years after Tito’s ground-breaking visit to Beijing in 1977. Through these in-depth contacts, both sides identified the advantages and downsides of each other’s systems, establishing concrete markers for choosing the best way to advance their societies and economies. Issues related to the nature of Yugoslav socialism, such as the functioning of democracy, the role of self-management, decentralised planning, and the market as well as the standard of living in Yugoslavia were seriously discussed in China. Based on newly declassified Yugoslav archival documents, internal reports made by the Chinese delegations and reports in the Yugoslav and Chinese press, this paper shows that Yugoslavia’s experience with the implementation of certain market mechanisms into its socialist economy, particularly in the field of management of state-owned enterprises and agricultural production, as well its developed economic exchanges with the capitalist world, all proved to be quite edifying for Chinese political and economic planners.

Daniela Kolenovská, “Economic Bridge over Ideological Divide: The PRC and Czechoslovakia in the 1980s”

After 1968, Czechoslovakia belonged to the most static members of the Soviet bloc. Promoting stereotypical solutions, the Czechoslovak leadership supported the Soviet-led strategy towards China and did not develop independent bilateral relations with Beijing. Czechoslovak views on China echoed changes in Soviet policies and the International Department of the Czechoslovak Communist Party’s Central Committee was in charge of implementing Soviet recommendations. As tensions in Sino–Soviet relations gradually eased in the 1980s, the focus of Czechoslovak interest in the PRC switched from politics to economics. Similarly to the reform-minded Chinese leadership, Czechoslovak communist leaders attempted to bolster their legitimacy through economic success and international cooperation. As the Prague leadership worked on separating politics from economics, the influence of economic ministries on Czechoslovak policies towards the PRC increased. They viewed the PRC as a resource-rich socialist state with leadership using effective instruments of power (chauvinism, violence, militarisation of labour), and as a future modern global power. Economic cooperation was gradually followed by contacts in culture, education, and sports and by the end of the 1980s inter-party relations were restored as well. The paper argues that the Czechoslovak communist leadership was not able to confront the growing crisis of the Soviet universalistic project. Their attempt to find an alternative socialist solution, which offered economic prospects through becoming part of China’s globalisation efforts, also failed as it was based on the principle of anti-imperialist nationalism and Czechoslovak citizens favoured direct association with the global West.

Miroslaw Sikora, “US-Inspired ‘China Differential’ as an Opportunity for Comecon’s Lagging Technology: The Case of Poland in the 1980s”

According to Coordinating Committee for Multilateral Export Controls (CoCom) statistics, in 1984 US authorities approved a total number of circa 2100 licenses of strategic commodities for export to Eastern European and East Asian Communist countries, with 1900 of those “export exceptions” being addressed to the People’s Republic of China and only about 200 to Comecon states. In 1985, the USA agreed to export almost twice as many technologies to the China as a year before. Other NATO members followed this path, becoming more and more prone to share knowhow with the PRC. Nevertheless, they remained intransigent towards Comecon member states, especially the Soviet Union, during the entire 1980s. In 1985, the number of requests submitted to the CoCom secretariat by NATO member states to sell technologies to the USSR amounted 56, Poland was mentioned 81 times, while China was subject to 4425 requests. Thus, in the course of the first half of the 80s, Polish authorities realised that access to advanced technologies, embargoed by the West, can be obtained not only through intelligence gathering in California or West Germany, or black market purchases in Switzerland or Austria, but also by establishing official, semi-official, and secret contacts to the PRC. By analysing Polish intelligence documents and focusing on electronics, computers, and automatic control, the paper identifies the methods applied by the Polish state to bypass CoCom’s trade restrictions and obtain Western knowhow via Chinese companies and institutions and estimates the economic and cognitive outcomes of those clandestine attempts.

Energy for China’s Socialist Industrialisation: Eastern European Contributions during the Sino-Soviet Alliance

2:00 pm – 3:45 pm
Room 1

  • Organised by Jan Zofka and Anna Belogurova
  • Chaired by Elisabeth Kaske
  • Jan Zofka, “The Logic of Socialist Exchanges: GDR Coal Specialists, China’s Energy Demand and the Global History of Coal-to-Liquid Technologies”
  • Anna Belogurova, “Exchanges between the Chinese and Soviet Institutions in the Coal Industry (1958–1960)”
  • Péter Vámos, “Hungarian Experts and the Daqing Oil Field”

The significance of the economic exchanges in the framework of the Sino–Soviet alliance outweigh the attention they get in studies on Chinese, Eastern European, and Global History. This panel draws attention to the energy resource sector and looks at transfers and exchanges around coal, oil, and coal-to-liquid technology during the 1950s. At the time, experts throughout the socialist world were discussing the ongoing global shift from coal to oil (and natural gas) as primary energy sources and sought for solutions on limited means to cope with the entangled technological change. Searching for oil was one way, producing liquid fuel from coal was another way, and continuing with coal-based technologies a third one. We want to discuss how important the socialist international cooperation was for China’s industrialisation and its energy base and what rationales stood behind these activities and exchanges. The Soviet support for the Chinese coal industry, the GDR attempts to build coal-to-liquid factories in China and the Hungarian participation in the development of the Daqing oil field are examples for the political economy of the rise and demise of the Sino-Soviet alliance and of the in- and exclusion of China into the international socialist web of technology, knowledge, and resource transfer.

Jan Zofka, “The Logic of Socialist Exchanges: GDR Coal Specialists, China’s Energy Demand and the Global History of Coal-to-Liquid Technologies”

Among the numerous industrial projects that GDR and PRC planned together after signing an economic cooperation treaty in 1955 one proposal stands out: three giant factories for producing liquid fuels from coal to be built by GDR specialists. This by far largest project of the short-lived Sino-East German cooperation was never realised. However, the (knowledge) exchanges in this field are very telling in respect of the rationales behind socialist international economic activities. The GDR leadership was not only keen on political friendship with the most populous socialist country in the world but also followed several economic aims: China was seen as a field for enhancing its industrial exports, complete “turnkey” factories especially. The coal experts aimed to revive their coal-to-liquid knowledge through export, while the technology in the GDR was approaching its end because of being too costly. The Chinese side urgently needed liquid fuels—and thus ended the project with the discovery of oil on its territory. However, as soon as oil demand outpaced domestic production the PRC indeed did acquire coal-to-liquid technologies in later decades. Although coal-to-liquid technology is paradigmatic for politically driven autarkism (of Nazi Germany and Apartheid South Africa mainly), the history of these concrete exchanges in the 1950s and of the technology more broadly shows that the socialist decision-makers followed rather a rationale of economic calculation. Technology and resources from the capitalist world always played a role in these intra-socialist exchanges, at least as an elephant in the room.

Anna Belogurova, “Exchanges between the Chinese and Soviet Institutions in the Coal Industry (1958–1960)”

Scholars usually view the Sino–Soviet rift (c.1960) either from top leadership angle, focusing on diverging views on the path to communism and on de-Stalinisation, or assess it based on power dynamics in the conflicts between the Soviet and Chinese specialists in their cooperation projects in China.
This paper will examine Soviet documents regarding technological exchanges between Chinese and Soviet institutions in 1958–1960 in the energy sector and coal industry in particular. Overall, they show that economic goals and ambition for global state-of-art technologies were driving forces of cooperation programs, as well as rationales for the disagreements between the Soviet and Chinese sides. What do those tell us about the relations between the SU and the PRC during this crucial time period? What relation (if at all) did those exchanges have to Mao Zedong’s disastrous industrialisation of the Great Leap Forward (1958–1961) which was literally fueled by coal?

Péter Vámos, “Hungarian Experts and the Daqing Oil Field”

Advanced geophysical techniques developed in Hungary contributed immensely to the success of geological surveys carried out in the PRC between 1956 and 1959. A group of Hungarian geophysicists played a pivotal role in exploring and discovering oil deposits in the Songliao Basin, which later became known as Daqing, the largest oil field in the PRC. Based on primary sources from Hungarian archives as well as oral history interviews with and publications by people involved in the expedition, this paper will examine this eminent example of Sino-Hungarian cooperation against the backdrop of the radicalisation of Chinese politics and growing tensions between the Soviet Union and China. Taking the Hungarian geophysicists’ expedition as an example, the aim of this paper is to explore the historical setting of early exchanges as well as the daily practice of scientific and technological interactions between the PRC and Hungary, one of the closest East European allies of the Soviet Union in the wake of the 1956 Hungarian revolution. The Great Leap Forward launched by Mao Zedong in 1958 became a source of tension between the foreign experts and the Chinese and led to the withdrawal of all Soviet experts 1960. However, some Hungarian advisors continued their work in China until 1962. Ironically, as the Sino-Soviet split escalated into an open conflict by the mid-1960s Daqing became a model industrial city in Mao Zedong’s revolutionary economic development strategy and also an eminent example of self-reliance and the eschewal of foreign knowledge systems.